The Complete A-Z Glossary of Buying Engagement Rings

The Complete A-Z Glossary of Buying Engagement Rings

Your Cheat Sheet to Diamond Engagement Ring Lingo

Use this alphabetical engagement ring guide for diamond & jewellery terminology and learn how to choose an engagement ring with confidence.

Abrasion

A tiny scratch on a diamond’s surface.

Alloy

A mixture of two or more metals designed to manipulate metal qualities like durability and produce desired colour combinations. Gold, for example, contains pure gold alloyed with other metals, such as silver, manganese, nickel, zinc and palladium.

Baguette

A long, rectangular cut diamond with 14 facets often seen in  vintage-inspired rings or used as side stones to accentuate the feature diamond. 

Bearded Girdle

A diamond girdle that has small chips or feather-like fractures that extend into the diamond.

Bezel-Set

A diamond setting technique that features a metal fringe gently overlapping the circumference of the diamond to secure it in place. Bezel-set diamonds are well protected from knocks, making it an ideal setting for those with active lifestyles. Its snag-resistant flat profile also makes the setting less likely to require the kind of emergency repairs associated with warped or broken prongs. Because the base of the diamond is hidden within the metal however, less light filters through the stone. To allow more light to reach the diamond, a half-bezel setting can be used, which features a break in the metal for light to reach in between (see image 3).

Blemish

A small imperfection visible on the surface of a diamond which can affect the diamond’s clarity grading.

Brilliance

Brilliance refers to the brightness of white light reflected when viewing a diamond’s crown. Brilliance is created by meticulously cutting and polishing the stone in a way that gathers light and redirects it back to the eye. Poor cutting and polishing can result in light leaking through the pavilion, which can dull the diamond’s brilliance. The cut must also feature contrast to create the on/off flashing effect of the facets in motion, which is known as scintillation. Scintillation must be present for maximum brilliance.

Carat

A unit of measurement that refers to a diamond’s weight and apparent size. A metric “carat” is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Diamond carats can be subdivided into 100 points, allowing for very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. It’s important to note that a diamond’s value is based on all 4Cs and not just carat size. 

Channel-Set

Channel settings feature diamonds set between two vertical metal walls that create a flat profile for maximum protection. There is no metal in between the diamonds, and the metal walls slightly overlap the side of the diamonds to form a small lip that protects them from accidental knocks. With no prongs or claws, channel settings are a snag-free design that won’t catch on clothes, hair or bed sheets.

Clarity

Diamond clarity refers to the visual imperfections present on the surface and within a diamond. These imperfections are used to create a clarity grading for the diamond; the fewer and smaller the inclusions, the higher the grade and diamond price. Surface imperfections are known as blemishes, and internal flaws are known as inclusions. The majority of inclusions can’t be seen by the naked eye and therefore do not detract from the diamond’s beauty. Gemologists often refer to inclusions as “internal characteristics” rather than flaws, as it’s these small naturally formed features that make a diamond unique. If you want a diamond that is completely free from inclusions visible to the naked eye, choose clarity grade VS2 or above. The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale includes six categories and 11 diamond clarity grades ranging from I3 to Flawless.

Claw-Set

Also known as prong-set diamonds, claw settings feature two or more metal prongs that wrap around the crown of the diamond. Once the diamond is placed inside the basket-like prong formation, the prongs are bent to tightly secure the stone in place. Rounded prongs are the most common type of SH claw setting, however we also offer more decorative designs like square prongs, heart prongs, pointed prongs and arrow-shaped prongs.

Colour

The presence of colour in a diamond can reduce its value. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, so the less colour, the more desirable the diamond. By comparing diamonds under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions, diamond graders can consistently measure the degree of colourlessness in a diamond using the GIA’s D-to-Z diamond colour grading scale. Colour distinctions can be so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye, making it important to purchase only GIA certified diamonds.


Cushion-Cut

Similar in appearance to a pillow, cushion cuts combine a square cut with gently rounded corners. They are also available in slightly rectangular shapes. While often less brilliant than round brilliant cuts, cushion-shaped diamonds are famous for their fire displays.

Crown

The crown of a diamond is the section above the girdle (the widest part of the diamond) and the table (the flat surface area on top). The crown angle is usually between 32 to 36 degrees

Culet

The small area at the bottom of the diamond's pavilion where the facets of the pavilion meet. It can be a point or a very small facet that sits parallel to the table. When a flat culet is present it adds an additional facet to the diamond’s total, whereas a pointed culet does not.

Cut

The GIA Cut Scale is used to determine how diamonds interact with light to create desirable effects like brightness, fire and scintillation. Of all the 4Cs, Cut is the most complex and technically difficult to evaluate, taking into account the diamond’s design and craftsmanship, including weight relative to diameter, girdle thickness (which determines durability), facet symmetry, and facet polish quality to produce a GIA certified grade ranging from Excellent to Poor.


Depth

Depth represents the diamond’s height measured in millimeters from its point or culet to its table. The ideal depth varies between cuts and can have a considerable effect on the diamond’s appearance and value.

Dispersion

Also referred to as fire, dispersion describes the separation of white light into different colours, creating a rainbow effect.


Emerald-Cut

Emerald-cut diamonds are rectangular or square in shape featuring 57 facets and cut-off corners with a large surface table. Emerald cuts are famous for their ‘Hall of Mirrors’ effect, which causes flashes of light generated by straight, linear facets.

Eternity Ring

Eternity rings feature diamonds or gemstones set around the entire perimeter of the band to symbolise never-ending love. Also known as Infinity Rings.

Full eternity medium 3-row pave set diamond bandThin pavé set women's diamond eternity wedding band (1.6mm)

Facet

A facet is a flat surface strategically etched onto a diamond’s exterior to produce desirable visual effects like brightness, fire and scintillation. How many facets a diamond has depends on the diamond shape; the modern round brilliant cut has 58 facets (including the culet), as do most Marquise, Oval, Cushion, Heart, Pear and Emerald shaped diamonds.

Fancy

Fancy diamond cuts refer to any diamond that is not a traditional round brilliant cut. SH Jewellery’s exclusive range of 18kt gold engagement rings features eight of the nine most common fancy types of diamond cuts available, including Princess, Oval, Marquise, Pear, Cushion, Emerald, Radiant and Heart shaped diamonds.

Feather

A type of inclusion inside a diamond which can extend to the surface. Feather fractures vary in size and are not always visible from all angles. The size and placement of the feather determine its impact on the diamond’s appearance and value.


Fire

The effect created when white light hits a diamond and disperses into rainbow colours while in motion. Also known as dispersion.


Flaw

Any imperfection that may affect the diamond’s value.


Floating Diamonds

A type of diamond setting that uses compression to clamp the diamond in place with very minimal metal contact. This technique creates a floating effect in which the diamond appears to be suspended, rather than held in place by metal or prongs. The mechanical strength required for tension-set rings means the shank of the ring is typically quite thick.

Four Cs (4Cs)

The globally accepted standard for grading diamond quality based on colour, clarity, cut and carat weight created by the GIA (Gemological Industry of America), of which SH Jewellery is a proud long-time member.


Halo

Halo engagement rings feature a higher-carat centre diamond surrounded by a band of smaller stones to create an eye-catching display of sparkle and fire. The halo can be single or double, with a diamond cut of choice for the centre stone. Halos can match the shape of the centre stone, or take on a shape of their own (see image 1 - hexagonal halo around a square stone).

Hardness

A diamond’s ability to resist scratches. Diamonds rate 10 on Mohs Mineral Hardness Scale, making them 40 times stronger than the mineral in category 9 (Corundum, which can make rubies and sapphires).


Heart-Cut

Based on the popular round brilliant cut diamond, heart cut diamonds contain between 56-58 facets, with six to eight facets forming the diamond’s pavilion.


Hypoallergenic

In reference to engagement rings and wedding ring metals, hypoallergenic means the metal alloy used is relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic of gold metals, meaning it’s least likely to cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.

Inclusions

Diamond inclusions are the internal imperfections found in diamonds, which are taken into consideration when grading clarity. These ‘birthmarks’ make it possible for graders to distinguish between natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds, as lab created diamonds don’t feature any inclusions. They are not always visible to the naked eye and can be identified by a skilled grader using 10 x magnification.  

Infinity Ring

Karat

A karat (K) is a unit of measurement that indicates the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts. For example, 18K gold is 18 out of 24 parts gold - the rest is a mixture of other metals designed to improve durability and achieve a desired colour. 

Marquise-Cut

Also known as Navette diamonds (French for “little ship”), Marquise cuts are dramatic eye-shaped diamonds with pointy ends admired for their ability to make fingers appear thinner and longer.

Modern

Modern engagement rings are a unique category that don’t conform to strict and consistent design rules. Lavish in nature, metal visibility is usually low, with diamonds of various carats and cuts covering most of the band. Modern engagement rings feature a variety of diamond shapes, arrangements and setting techniques to produce spectacular engagement rings in a league of their own.

Oval-Cut

Oval-cut diamonds are elongated round brilliant cuts that can create the illusion of longer, slimmer fingers. Oval cuts can also appear bigger than round brilliant cuts of identical carat weight due to their stretched proportions. The ideal ratio of length to width for oval-shaped diamonds is considered to be between 1.30 to 1.50. With no sharp corners, oval cuts are a durable design offering ultimate protection from chipping. 

Pavé-Set

Pronounced ‘pah-vay’ from the French word ‘to pave’, this diamond setting technique involves placing the stones low and close together using small metal beads or prongs that are barely visible beneath the diamonds’ glow. White gold is a popular choice for pavé-set rings, as the metal blends well, allowing the diamonds to take centre stage.

 

Pavilion

The bottom half of the diamond typically hidden within the ring setting. Although mostly hidden, the pavilion plays a significant role in the diamond’s appearance, as its carefully cut facets help light to enter, bounce and reflect through the stone, improving its fire and brilliance. The three areas of the pavilion are the girdle, pavilion facets and culet.

Pear-Cut

Also known as teardrops, pear-cut diamonds combine the best of round and marquise diamonds to produce gently curved shoulders and wings that taper to a striking point, traditionally worn facing away from the body.

 

Platinum

The rarest type of engagement ring metals symbolising solidarity and prestige. It is naturally metallic in appearance, which like white gold, brilliantly enhances a diamond’s sparkle. Platinum is about 20% denser than white gold, requiring more of it to produce the same style of ring, which results in a heavier, more substantial feel when worn.

Princess-Cut

A type of diamond cut combining the brilliance of a round brilliant cut with 90 degree corners that create a square shape when viewed from above and inverted pyramids when viewed from the side. The number of facets and the faceting arrangement of princess cut diamonds can vary widely.

Prong Set / Prongs

Radiance

Another word to describe the sparkle of a diamond caused by refracting and reflecting light.

Radiant-Cut

Radiant cut diamonds combine the finest elements of a round brilliant cut with an emerald cut. They have a complete brilliant cut facet pattern applied to both the crown and pavilion, with cropped corners offering excellent protection from chipping.

 

Ring Sizer Tool

A tool used to conveniently find your ring size at home, allowing you to buy engagement rings online. When you purchase a SH Ring Sizer Tool you receive the full amount in credit to spend on any SH products, and $10 from the sale is donated to life-changing charities through i=Change.

Ring sizer


Rose Gold

Rose gold engagement rings are predominantly pure gold and copper, often blended with other metals. The exact percentages differ between jewellers and are considered secret recipes for the perfect shade. The higher the copper content, the richer the pink, so choosing a 14K (58% gold) rose gold engagement ring will produce a stronger pink than an 18K gold ring (75% gold), as the 14K rose gold ring contains less pure gold and more copper. More copper also makes it stronger and more durable than yellow or white gold. A silver component can also be added to reduce the redness, achieving a softer blush of pink. Re-application is not required with rose gold as it maintains its shine for a lifetime without tarnishing.

Rough Diamond

An unprocessed raw diamond that has not been cut or polished.


Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

The universal favourite of all diamond cuts designed to emit maximum brightness, fire and sparkle in a colourless diamond.

Scintillation (a.k.a Sparkle)

Scintillation is the effect produced by bright and dark flashes of reflection as a diamond moves under light. The diamond, eye or light source must be moving to observe scintillation. Optimal scintillation is achieved by precision cut proportions, facet alignment, symmetry and polish.

Shank

The lower portion of the engagement ring or wedding band.


Solitaire 

By far the most popular and traditional of the 5 engagement ring categories featuring a single centrepiece diamond. The most common diamond shape for a solitaire engagement ring is a round brilliant cut, although any shape diamond can be featured.

Table

The large, flat facet on a diamond’s surface that you see when you look at the diamond from above. The table is the largest facet on a diamond and plays a significant role in determining how brilliant a diamond is.

Tension Set

Three-Stone

Also known as trilogy rings, three-stone engagement rings feature three stones said to represent a couple’s past, present & future, or friendship, love & fidelity. Two side diamonds flank a higher-carat centre stone typically of the same cut, though different cuts can also create a beautifully balanced combination. Additional diamonds can be set around the band, or a simple gold band may be preferable to highlight a heavy-carat centre stone.

 

Timeless 

A word used to describe an enduring design that stands the test of time. May also refer to the Timeless engagement rings category that features a centre diamond flanked by smaller side diamonds for added shine and depth of design.

Trilogy Ring

Two-Tone

When two different metals appear in the same ring. This is not common practice for traditional engagement rings and more often seen in men’s wedding bands.



White Gold

Like yellow gold, white gold contains pure gold alloyed with other metals, such as silver, manganese, nickel, zinc and palladium. White gold engagement rings are usually plated with rhodium (a platinum group metal applied to reduce scratching and tarnishing), which produces a chrome-like reflective finish. This makes white gold a popular choice for engagement rings due to its ability to intensify a diamonds’ sparkle. Despite being harder and more scratch resistant than yellow gold, the rhodium plating wears over time and requires re-application every 1-3 years. Engagement ring rhodium plating services are performed instore at SH Jewellery by Master Jewellers usually as a next day service.

Yellow Gold

The more traditional choice of engagement ring metal. Yellow gold engagement rings contain a combination of pure gold and other metals like copper, brass, zinc and silver, which are added to make the gold stronger. The colour of yellow gold engagement rings differs depending on the karat (i.e. the percentage of other metals present). 18K produces a richer, more vibrant yellow, while lower karats offer a paler shade. The warm patina of yellow gold is due to the red influence of copper and the green caused by silver. Yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic of gold metals, making it ideal for sensitive skin types. It is not as durable as white gold, so when comparing rings of the same karat, yellow gold will wear faster than white gold. For those with active lifestyles or physical occupations, white gold engagement rings may therefore be a more suitable option.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Our team of Engagement Ring Specialists can answer all your questions about how to buy an engagement ring. Schedule a complimentary phone consultation, or visit our Springvale Showroom to experience the famous SH customer experience instore and discover the best engagement rings to buy with diamonds 3-4 grades higher than industry standards and 7-8 grades higher than retail chain stores.

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